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S Jaishankar To Address Virtual SAARC Council Minister’s Meeting

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is expected to participate in the virtual SAARC Council of Ministers’ informal meeting, which is slated to begin later on Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

“EAM @DrSJaishankar will participate in the Virtual Informal Meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers, which begins shortly. We look forward to positive and constructive discussions to take forward regional cooperation among member states for increased prosperity in South Asian region,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a tweet.

The SAARC summit has remained stalled after Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists attacked a military based in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri, which killed 19 soldiers. Pakistan was to host the summit in 2016 but India decided to boycott the meeting following the Uri attack.

Other countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan, also walked out following India’s decision to exit the summit to step up diplomatic pressure on Pakistan.

India, the largest member of the SAARC forum, has repeatedly called on Pakistan to take stringent steps to combat terror and said terror and talks do not go together.

On March 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video conference with SAARC leaders, in which he initiated a COVID-19 emergency fund for the regional bloc with an initial offer of USD 10 million for the fund.

All other SAARC members had promptly donated to the COVID-19 emergency fund except Pakistan, which was the last among the eight members of the bloc to contribute to the COVID-19 emergency fund.

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